Sunday, 17 January 2021

UN in your language

Essayists for understanding

26.07.16 - Students from around the world come together for multilingualism and understanding.

Each year the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) and ELS Educational Services, Inc. run the Many Languages, One World international essay competition. Every year students from around the world are encouraged to submit essays that revolve around the subject of ‘global citizenship, cultural understanding and the role that multilingualism can play in fostering both.’ Entrants submitted essays in one of the six official languages of the UN (English, French, Arabic, Russian, Chinese and Spanish) in a language other than their mother tongue.


Winners of the Multilingual Essay Competition in New York. Photo: UNAI

This year more than 9,000 people took part by entering the initial phase of the contest, from over 165 countries. There were 60 winners selected from a pool of 3,600. These winners will be treated to an all-expenses-paid trip this Friday to the Many Languages, One World Global Youth Forum at Hofstra University in New York State where they will meet with students from all over the world in a cultural exchange. While at the Youth Forum they will attend conferences with such speakers as Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Cristina Gallach, UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft and the Secretary-General's Special Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, which will be webcast live in the six UN languages.


Scale of international involvement in the competition. Photo: UNAI

Subsequently the winners will then travel to the United Nations General Assembly at the UN Headquarters in New York City where they will present action plans related to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

There were many entrants and winners this year from Europe who produced essays in a variety of languages and subject fields, including Sophia Smith-Galer, a student from the UK who studies Modern Languages at Durham University, for her essay in Arabic. Sebastien Raphael Heinz who studies Sustainable Resource Development Technische Universität München in Germany submitted his essay in French. In addition to his native German, Sebastian also speaks English, French, Chinese and Spanish.

Students who participated in the contest are pursuing undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees. Winners include students of prestigious international universities such as University of Pennsylvania (USA), Xi’an International Studies University (China) and Bologna University (Italy). Their fields of study include language and linguistics, medicine, architecture, computer science and technology, business and sustainable research management.

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